Monday, March 30, 2015

My Son's Eagle Commemorative Knife

It's nice to be making knives again and the new grinder is making my life very happy.  As I have mentioned before, I am making this knife in commemoration of my second son earning his eagle scout advancement.  I thought it might be nice for him to receive one of his proud father's knives to hopefully keep as an heirloom to pass down to his own son some day.  Besides, my oldest son got one of my knives when he earned his eagle, and his little brother would feel left out if he didn't get one too.

This build begins like all others, with a design printed off on paper.  Cardstock is better than paper, but I was out at the time and didn't want to make a Walmart run.  I design all my knives on CAD so that I can make sure everything works just right before I start building.  With a folding knife, there are a lot of things that have to be tweaked just right in order for everything to work right.  There is a significant amount of opportunity for something to go wrong in a folder design.  The blade has to stop in the right open and closed positions, the lock and back spacer have to engage the tang in just the right locations, the blade edge has to stop before slamming into the back spacer when closed, and a hundred other things to consider.  Designing on a computer offers the opportunity to mess around with the design, clearances, rotations, . . . without wasting any materials.  This isn't to say that a computer is a must, in fact, I have designed several using paper cutouts, but a computer speeds things up and is more precise.  This is the second time I have built this design with I call the Guardian.  The first one turned out really great and I think this design fits the personality of my son.  I hope he likes it.

I chose to use 440C for the blade.  440C is a classic stainless steel that produces a great blade with all the qualities that are necessary for a piece of cutlery.  It holds a good edge, is fairly easy to grind, and polishes up nice and bright.  I'll use 416 stainless steel for the bolsters and 6al4v titanium for the liners.  I still haven't decided on scale material yet.  I'm thinking some stabilized burl or maybe micarta.

This photo shows the blade that has been rough profiled at the top and the liners at the bottom.  I tried a new technique with the liners.  I'm always looking for better ways to do things and I picked up this idea from the internet.  I used a couple dots of super glue between liners to hold them together as I profiled them and drilled all the holes.  It worked really well, much better than messing around with clamps and the balancing act that ensues when trying to drill holes in the right locations.  You might also be able to see that I actually have three liners glued together in the picture.  The third will be used as a template for future knives of this design.

This is a shot of all the parts so far: the blade, two liners, back spacer, two front bolsters, and two rear bolsters.  Doesn't look much like a knife yet at this point, but it will soon.

 I tried the same technique with the super glue for the bolsters and it worked really well.  It kept everything aligned while profiling and drilling.  The glue pops off really easy by heating up the part with a propane torch for a few seconds and giving it a tap on the bench.  I then take the dried glue off on the disk sander.  A little acetone helps to clean all the glue off too.

Profiling the bolsters while attached to the liners takes care of three out of four sides, but leaves the inside curve that will butt up against the scales untouched.  In order for right and left bolsters to match exactly, I pin the two matching bolsters together before contouring the inside radius.  I didn't glue these together, I just relied on the pins to maintain the alignment.

Here's a photo of all the parts after they have been profiled, drilled, countersunk, and tapped.  Lot's of holes, but each one is necessary.

The knife handle has been screwed together in the last pic into a single assembly.  Now it's looking like a knife should.  The blade has just been laid unattached inside the handle to get the overall look of the knife.  I really like this design.  It's kind of gentleman's style meets tactical.  I still need to add the pivot assembly before I can check out all the mechanical workings of the knife.  The blade is basically ready for heat treatment, but I think I will do some file work on the spine before it gets hardened to punch up the "Wow" factor.  There's still a lot of work yet to accomplish, but so far, I'm pleased with the progress.

It sure feels good to have a knife project underway again.  I've been experiencing knife-making withdrawals for the last few weeks as I have been focused on making my grinder.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but the bones are now in place.  I'm really looking forward to grinding the hollow grind in the blade with my new grinder.  I have no doubt that it will be a huge step up from my wooden disks with sandpaper edges (go to my shop tour page to see what I mean).  Hopefully next week I'll get a chance to finish the blade and continue working on the handle.  The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning toward using a piece of stabilized maple burl that has been dyed red and black for the scales.  I think my son would really like that.

Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Success at Last ! ! !

Her she is in all her glory!

Maybe not to your eyes, but to mine, she's the most beautiful of all tools I've ever beheld.  Of course, that might be due to all the time, blood, sweat and tears that I have invested in her.  It was a long road, not without a bump or two along the way, but she's finally purring like a kitten.  And I mean, she really purrs!

I put the grinder through its paces today and found it working superbly.  It runs smoothly, quietly and without vibration.  I couldn't be more happy with how it works.  It has enough power when I put it in high gear to trip the breaker in the power strip that its plugged into.  I'll have to plug it in directly I guess.  I'm not terribly happy with the on/off switch and plan to make a few modifications to it, like remove the black electrical tape (wink, wink).  I still need to put a little more paint on a few parts as well and the extension arm on my tool rest is not long enough to use with my contact wheel.  But, all in all, I'm very pleased with its operation.

I have a short list of additional accessories that I would like to add in the future, such as: a vertical tool rest, an articulating tool rest, a small wheel arm, and a few more contact wheels of various sizes.  But, those are for the future.  For now, I'll use it as it stands. 

I have to admit, that I'm glad this grinder build is over and I can move on to the reason why I built it in the first place, building knives.  I actually had the time to start another knife build project this weekend that I will be posting progress pictures of as soon as I can get the photos organized.  As I mentioned before, I need to make a knife for my son in recognition of him earning his eagle scout award, and that is the knife that I started working on.  He worked hard over many years to earn his eagle and deserves something nice to commemorate the occasion.  His Court of Honor, where he will be awarded his eagle, is just a couple weeks away, so I need to get busy.  I think you will enjoy following along.

Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Belt Rack

Well, I had really hoped that the drive shaft for my grinder would arrive by now, but unfortunately the supplier didn't ship it out in time and it won't be here until next week.  So, after sheading a few tears and feeling sorry for myself, I took the opportunity to organize my shop.

With the addition of the new grinder, I had to rearrange my benches in order to get my new tools into a place where it will be usable.  It took a lot of thought and shifting things around to get all the tools in places where they can be easily used without feeling too crowded.  In a little shop like mine, that was quite a task, but, I think I have everything accessible now.

I also took advantage of the extra time to make some racks to hang grinding belts from.  I built them out of some scraps I had lying around the shop.  An old 2x4, a handful of 1/4" dowel rods and a little elbow grease and they were ready to hang.  Here are a few photos to show you how they turned out.

 One of the racks finished and ready to hang.

 Both racks installed in the corner next to the new grinder.  It's good to store things next to where they are used.  Point-of-use storage is what they called it in a class a took in college a long time ago.

I ordered a bunch of different belts to try out.  Since I have never used a 2"x72" grinder before, I'm not sure which kinds of belts will work best for me and what I do, so a good variety at the start should allow me to decide which ones I will order more of.  All in all, I think it turned out quite nice.

Even though I didn't get my grinder finished today, I still feel like I was able to accomplish something productive.  I'm still chomping at the bit to give the grinder a try though.  It's been weeks now since I've worked on a knife build and I'm really starting to miss it.  I better get this thing finished soon before I start going through knife making withdrawals.  I don't think there's a cure for that kind of a disease.  Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge.  The next post should be of the grinder up and running.

-  Brandant Robinson

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Knife Grinder - Take 2

Well, this weekend I made some significant progress on the knife grinder.  In fact, I would have been making sparks and little piles of black dust if it wasn't for a faulty drive shaft.  I decided to try making my own drive shaft from a piece of cold-rolled steel that I picked up at the local hardware store.  I cut and installed the keyways in each end, installed the shaft on the pillow block bearings and attached the drive wheel and pulley.  With much trepidation, I started up the grinder, eager to see how it would run.  Everything seemed to work fine, with one exception; there was a significant amount of vibration.

I investigated where the problem was coming from and noticed how the drive shaft was wobbling around.  I disassembled the power train and took a good look at the shaft.  I rolled it across the table and it seemed to roll fairly smoothly.  I set it on a flat surface and rolled it back and forth as I watched for gaps between the shaft and the flat surface.  It turns out that the shaft had a wave which oscillated from one end to the other.  Apparently the cold-rolled dowel rod from the hardware store isn't very precise.  So, with a click of the mouse, I placed an order for a precision manufactured shaft.  I had to place an order anyway since I was one piece of steel short that I needed to make the contact wheel arm.  The following are a few photos of the build so far:

Here's the grinder after I have attached it to its plywood base.  It doesn't look very impressive yet, but it will soon.

A good coat of paint will keep it looking good and keep it from rusting.  I debated about what color to paint it for quite a while but finally settled on a dark grey color.  I think I made the right choice.

Here are the parts for the flat platen, slack belt, and tool rest attachments after they got a good coat of color. 

Here is the grinder completely assembled with the slack belt arm attached.  This is right before I fired it up for the first time and before the pain of tracking down the vibration problem began.  At least it looks good.

This is where I left off for the day.  You can see the on/off switch has been installed to complete the build.  The flat platen and tool rest arms have been attached for visual reference.

I had hoped to be finished with the grinder today so I could give it a try with a new knife build next week.  But, if the supplier comes through with my order as promised, it should only take an hour or so to get the grinder running when the parts get here.  Maybe I'll be making my son's knife next week after all.  Thanks for stopping by the Robinson Edge.

-  Brandant Robinson

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Beginnings of a Grinder

If you have taken the opportunity to click on the “Shop Tour” tab above, you will have seen the little shop inside which I do all my knife work.  If you are a knife maker yourself, or have been to someone else’s shop, you might well have noticed the glaring absence of a dedicated knife grinder.  Up until now, I have done almost all of my grinding work on a Ryobi bench grinder that was really made for sanding wood.  You will have also seen in the Shop Tour the MDF disks with sandpaper on the edges that I use for establishing hollow grinds in my blades.  I’m quite pleased with the work I have been able to turn out on these tools and have learned quite a bit about making things work with what you have on hand to work with.  But, as you can imagine, it takes a long time on these tools to get much done in the way of making sparks and little piles of black dust.

I now find myself in the position to finally take the leap and upgrade to a 2”x72” grinder.  In other words, my dear wife has given me the go-ahead to spend a little of our hard earned money on some shop tools.  Since I make my knives as a hobby, I still can’t justify spending thousands of dollars on a factory-built machine, but, with the arrival of my tax return, I went armed to the internet and purchased a set of plans and the materials to build my own.  So, I guess for the first real series of post on the Robinson Edge, I will take you along with me as I build my very own big-boy toy!

The plans that I purchased were for a No-Weld Grinder/Sander (NWGS) from  I lack the tools and the expertise to weld, so this plan seemed like a good choice.  Here is a photo of some of the steel parts that will ultimately make up the grinder.

At this stage in the game, I get the same creative juices flowing like when I have a new knife design in hand and begin gathering up the raw materials that will be used to create my brainchild.  In my head I can vaguely see the finished product.  The vision is always a little cloudy at this point, but I know, hiding behind the fog, there is a finished masterpiece waiting on the horizon.  There is also that nagging feeling way down deep that says, “You’re in way over your head again, Brandant!”

Here is a shot of the parts after they have been trimmed to length, squared up, drilled, tapped, and otherwise ready to assemble.

I didn’t realize how much work it would take to get to this point.  I have been using my little bench grinder to square up the ends of the work pieces.  The poor little thing has worked like a champ for years without complaining.  I guess it caught wind that I was making its replacement, because it through a serious tantrum.  The belt drive pulley sheared off of the drive shaft and left me to square things up with a file.  Aaarrggghhh!!!  If it’s going to be that naughty, it deserves to be replaced.

The next photos shows the hardware that will be needed to assemble the grinder.  There are bags of nuts and bolts everywhere.  It's nice to have a set of plans to work from, otherwise, I'm sure I would forget where everything is supposed to go.

This final photo shows where I ended with the grinder assembly.
My shop time is generally limited to Friday afternoons and some time on Saturdays, so things are moving a little slower that I had hoped.  Next week, I hope to get the grinder assembled and maybe get a coat of paint on it.  I think it will come together pretty quickly now that all the parts have been built to specs.
My son recently earned his Eagle Scout award, and I promised to make him a knife in recognition of his achievement.  So, I really need to get this up and running so I can get started on that knife before he is awarded his rank advancement.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how this grinder performs.  My hopes are high at this point and all the reviews of the design have given it glowing reviews.  I guess I'll just have to be patient and wait and see.
-  Brandant Robinson

Thursday, March 5, 2015

New Available Knives

Slowly, but surely, I'm working to build up and organize the Robinson Edge into a usable, accessible, and hopefully entertaining site.  It's really amazing the amount of work it takes to get something like this up and running.  So far, I haven't run into any big snags, but it simply takes time to get things working.

I should have a work in progress (WIP) up for everyone to follow along with, hopefully by the first of next week.  Until then, here are a few photographs of some completed knives to keep you interested and coming back.

These four knives have all been listed on the "Available Knives" page.  Click the tab at the top of this page to look over a description of each knife and a few more photos of each.  Thanks for stopping by.

- Brandant Robinson